We all love when a new piece of technology just works, with a smooth and streamlined installation process. It feels like magic. We open the box – and it all just works! Everything is effortless and life is good. And this is equally true for professional products as it is for consumer products.
As a customer, we’d like to take this feeling of joy for granted. As the product maker, we must work hard to ensure that our customers can take this for granted.
Today we’re taking a look at how to make your connected product a joy to install and set up!
Installation Should be a Joy, not a Chore
As a product maker, it is easy to forget how important the installation procedure is. It is way too easy to think that because installation and setup is something that is done only once, it is less important than the rest of the system. But, as the customer, the installation procedure is the first impression that we get from the product.
For a connected product, the installation process is the primary onboarding process for your product. It is the way that users get started with your product.
But it goes beyond onboarding. For many connected products, installation is something that is done not just one, but several times. We add new devices to an existing network. We replace a piece of hardware that happened to break. We move an installation to a new location. And so forth. Every time we need to manually do something with the system, we tend to invoke the installation procedure. So by making the installation procedure quick, we drastically reduce the amount of manual work needed when using our product.
How to Make Installation a Joy
There are a few key concepts in making installation of your connected product a joy for your customers:
Make the installation process as quick as possible for the user. Sometimes the technology requires a longer time to complete the installation procedure, for example to transfer security keys or to find or form a wireless network. In such cases, minimize the amount of time the user needs to interact with the system, and bundle all interaction in a single session. This will create the perception of a quick installation procedure, while the technology may take any amount of time it needs to sort itself out in the background.
Keep the amount of reading to an absolute minimum. It is easy to resort to having the user read a manual or even a brief leaflet with installation instructions. Avoid this at all costs. Instead, focus on making the installation procedure so straightforward that no reading is needed.
And, for any on-screen text, work hard to reduce the amount of words used. Do you find a needless word? If so, remove it! Reword as necessary. Repeat.
Leverage Bluetooth Beacons
Every smartphone has Bluetooth installed. This can be used to our advantage in the installation procedure. But Bluetooth can be tricky because, by default, it requires the user to make an explicit connection to the device, even before installation starts. Bluetooth also sometimes differ slightly in behavior and performance over Android and iOS platforms and versions.
Fortunately, the newest Bluetooth standards have incorporated a new mechanism called beacons. Beacons make it possible for a device to send a brief piece of information to a nearby smartphone, which the smartphone can pick up without making an explicit connection to the device.
Bluetooth beacons are a great way to make the presence of a device known to your app, running on your user’s smartphone, even if your product otherwise does not use Bluetooth.
In the Thingsquare system, we use Bluetooth beacons to find nearby devices that are ready to be installed. Thanks to Bluetooth beacons, it literally takes less than a second for the device to appear on the smartphone.
Don’t Require an Upfront Sign-in
Many connected products require the user to register a login name and password before even starting to set things up. Signing up can be a major distraction that may seriously disrupt an otherwise joyful installation flow.
Although it in most cases there is a technical requirement to have a login session, try to allow the user to go through as much as possible before requiring the user to sign up. For example, the technology may set up an “anonymous” login session that later can be transformed into a login session after asking the user for sign-in details.
Make it Easy to do the Right Thing
Design your user interface to make it easy to do the right thing, and make it difficult to do the wrong thing. This may sound like an obvious design pattern, but it is way too easy to clutter up the user interface with options that make it too easy to make a misstep.
Installation should be a joy, not a chore. And all it takes as a product maker is a commitment to your users and a bit of thinking. You can do it too!